9 January 2015, Written by Karen Rickert
AFTER seeing room for improvement in the Australian market for men's grooming, Luke Swenson decided to take a risk and pursue something close to his heart or rather face.
Suffering from beard itch, or beardruff as he calls it, Swenson was unable to find an effective product and decided to develop one himself.
The result is The Bearded Chap, a range of facial hair care products including beard balm, beard oil and moustache wax, sold online and through distributors.
The company has been operating for little more than a year, but Swenson says he is pleased with how the business has been tracking from the outset.
He says the organic growth has been achieved through social media and by partnering with the best barbers and stockists in Australia.
"To this date we have spent probably about $3000 in advertising which is next to nothing and it's all been word of mouth," Swenson says.
"As soon as we enter the US and European markets, we are looking at ridiculous growth and will take on board some investors to get that capital behind us.
"We've got a couple of big competitors around the world and purely through population, their revenue is twice of what we are.
"But in terms of where we sit in the world with growth per capita, we're actually way ahead of them and we can't wait to compete and see how much market share we can get."
The premium quality of the brand has resonated with influential people including Australian rugby union players through to everyday people or "beard ambassadors."
Swenson says the niche market has been further broken down into several demographics, including beard bogans, corporate beards, grey nomads, high end barber shops and females purchasing for the bearded men in their lives.
"I've met some of our customers who have been with us at the very start and it's so cool having interactions with them," he says.
"We wouldn't be here without them. It's great to hear how much they enjoy the product from the quality side of things and how it actually impacts their life."
The Bearded Chap has a number of products planned in the pipeline, including beard shampoo, beard soap and a grey nomad edition to prevent staining from overuse.
Swenson also plans to release a top secret product set to be a "game changer in the beard world" to sustain growth, backed by iconic packaging and genuine values.
"It's pretty much about executing distribution, teaching people about us and then educating bearded men on how to look after themselves," he says.
"As a result of that knowledge we pass on, they want to buy our products because they trust us and we've given them way more value than someone trying to palm a piece of luxury in their pocket and take their cash."